Kids’ Almanac (10/19-26)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Erica’s Cancer Journey: 

What happened when I changed the question

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson

“The brain tumors are smaller,” the doctor reported at my radiation follow-up. “Great!” I said, almost reflexively. It’s not much to process: Smaller is good, larger is bad. Got it. No further questions. “Thanks, ’bye!” I didn’t think anything more about it.

At a later appointment with another doctor, I learned that, yes, the tumors showed a decrease in size, but not by much. “Wait, what? But…but…but…”It had never occurred to me to ask how much shrinkage had actually happened.


At the next follow-up to my follow-up (if this cancer weren’t in the process of killing me, I would probably die of neverending follow-up appointments), I was as relentless as the telemarketers who hound my Do Not Call-listed number. What Would Neil deGrasse Tyson Do? “So, how much smaller are we talking?” I persisted, demanding more than a “smaller/bigger” comparison. And then, out of utter exasperation, this doctor changed everything with one question: “Why don’t I just show you?”

My mind exploded. All of my imaging was at hand on the computer. I just never thought to ask to see it before: It was never offered before, and it never came up. He showed me my imaging from spring and fall, comparing the sizes of each brain tumor with a cool digital ruler. Watching my scans with my own eyes, interpreted and explained by my doctor alongside, helped me take control of processing this information about me, my body, without relying exclusively on his words. At these follow-ups, I don’t want story – I want science! Seeing the screen myself, I was able to integrate his reporting with actual numbers along with visuals.

Thanks for reading. Head On and Heart Strong!


Clermont hosts Legends by Candlelight Ghost Tours

What did Halloween décor look like in 1921? You can see for yourself, if you dare, at the Clermont State Historic Site’s “Legends by Candlelight Ghost Tours.” These special tours take place Friday and Saturday, October 20, 21, 27 and 28 between 6 and 9 p.m., with stories that range from humorous to scary, but they are all true! You aren’t going to find this history in your kids’ schoolbooks.

Tour admission costs $12 for adults, $8 for members and $5 for children aged 12 and under. Reservations are required. The Clermont State Historic Site is located at 87 Clermont Avenue in Germantown. For reservations or more information, call (518) 537-4240 or visit

National Coming-Out Day dance in Kingston

In the mood to hear “Girls Like Girls” or “Secrets” or “Radio-Friendly Pop Song”? Yes! Get your dance on and Celebrate National Coming-Out Day at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center Teen Dance and request these tunes this Friday, October 20 from 7 to 10 p.m. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied youth ages 12 to 19 years are invited to join in on dancing, games, pizza, ice cream and fun! The suggested donation is $5 per person, and reservations are preferred but not required.

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center is located at 300 Wall Street in Kingston. For reservations or more information, call (845) 331-5300 or visit And save the date for the upcoming LGBTQ Family Carnival next month in Kingston:

Zylofone Halloween Karaoke & Costume Party

Where can you get kooky and spooky this holiday season? Why, the Zylofone Halloween Karaoke and Costume Party, of course! This Friday, October 20, get your ghostly garb on and sing and dance your telltale heart out at the Maybrook Alternative Learning Center. Walk this way: Contests, games and prizes abound. Come dressed up, or borrow a costume on-site! This event is open to all abilities. Admission costs $5: ages 4 to 12 attend from 5 to 7 p.m., ages 13 and up from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The Maybrook Alternative Learning Center is located at 120 Broadway in Maybrook. For more information, call (845) 476-8257 or visit


Kingston Library hosts Hobnobbin’ Goblins

’Tis the season for spooky stories; but if you are looking for a Halloween experience sans scare, your family will take in these ghouls with gusto! On Saturday, October 21 at 10:30 a.m., the Kingston Library presents Hobnobbin’ Goblins with the Robert Rogers Puppet Company. These charming marionettes come out to play after dark, including a dancing witch, a skeleton whose bones fly apart, a wizard with elastic legs and more! This performance is free and open to the public, and it is geared to schoolaged children.

The Kingston Library is located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-0507, extension 7, or visit To learn more about the show, visit

Meadow Fest at High Meadow School in Stone Ridge

Whether you live with avid readers or not, all ages will enjoy heading to the High Meadow School this weekend, where books come alive! On Saturday, October 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., check out “Meadow Fest: A Literary Arts Celebration for Families.” Families will meet real authors and storytellers, including Jon Muth, Walter Simonson, Louise Jones and Billy Deltz, and sample interactive stations, including Creating Seasonal Poetry with Julie Fogliano and calligraphy with Josh Painter. Imaginary fun includes a walking tour of Hudson Valley characters, such as Rip Van Winkle; playing Quidditch outside; and live music and entertainment. Remember to bring a bag to hold your used book finds, too!

Meadow Fest is free and open to the public of all ages. The High Meadow School is located at 3643 Main Street in Stone Ridge. For more information, call (845) 687-4855 or visit


Family Day at Vassar’s Lehman Loeb Art Center

If you have not made some time lately for art activity with your crew, and especially if you have not yet had the pleasure of visiting the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, you are in for a treat. The collection includes artworks from across the ages, including paintings by Georgia O’Keefe, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, but the people at the Lehman Loeb also make art accessible through great children’s programming.

This Sunday, October 22 from 1:30 to 4 p.m., join Family Day at the museum for an afternoon of hands-on activities in the sculpture garden and exposure to terrific art with kid-friendly mini-tours, all around the theme of printmaking. Geared for children ages 5 to 10 years, this event is free and open to the public, and activities are ongoing, so you may drop in anytime; no registration is required.

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 437-5632 or visit


Long Dock Park in Beacon hosts pumpkin-carving marathon

Many of us do our pumpkin-decorating at home and stick them on the porch. Here’s a chance to think bigger about these bold beauties: Scenic Hudson presents a “Pumpkins in the Park Jack-o’-Lantern Lighting Event,” which means that you get to make a seedy, pulpy mess that’s not in your kitchen! From Monday through Thursday, October 23 to 26 between 3 and 6 p.m., all ages are invited to carve pumpkins at Long Dock Park (pumpkins are provided and must remain on-site). Then, on Friday, October 27 from 6 to 8 p.m., come see all of the gourd-geous illuminated creations displayed throughout the park. Flashlights are suggested for easier navigation. This event is free and open to all.

Long Dock Park is located at 8 Long Dock Road in Beacon. For more information, call (845) 473-4440, extension 273, or visit


Climate Matters! with Playback & puppets at SUNY-New Paltz

Climate change? Take it from Karl Pilkington of The Ricky Gervais Show: “They keep saying that sea levels are rising an’ all this. It’s nowt to do with the icebergs melting; it’s because there’s too many fish in it. Get rid of some of the fish and the water will drop. Simple. Basic science.”

This Wednesday, October 25 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Parker Theatre at SUNY-New Paltz, all are invited to join Climate Matters! with Hudson River Playback Theatre and Infinite Arms Puppet Theatre. This interactive performance features shadow puppets, live music and your personal stories, feelings and experiences about climate change and is part of Climate Change Theatre Action, an assemblage of 225 events in 40 countries. All are welcome, and admission is by donation.

SUNY-New Paltz is located at 1 Hawk Drive in New Paltz. For more information, visit

Erica Chase-Salerno is nonstop obsessed with Acorn Hill Farm chèvre. She can be reached between bites at